Residents celebrated a year and half of work and $40,000 in fundraising Tuesday that transformed an aging swing set, gravel and weeds at Columbia and Corona streets in central Colorado Springs into the new Patty Jewett Junction playground that celebrates the area's history. 

"For years Patty Jewett neighbors have been discussing the potential of this space," said Jessica Barnett, chairwoman of the Patty Jewett Junction Committee. "...We wanted the project to celebrate the past and the future."

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The city of Colorado Springs provided a $50,000 in funding for the $90,000 playground that features vertical climbing structures inspired by the roses grown by early Colorado Springs resident Patty Jewett. The 2,000-square-foot playground also has train-themed equipment inspired by the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad. The train's right of way is now Shooks Run Trail, a part of which is adjacent to the new playground. 

The city also recently repaved Shooks Run from Columbia to Uintah streets replacing the asphalt trail with a 10-foot wide concrete path, using a portion of the funds that voters allowed the city to keep in November for parks projects. The money would otherwise have been refunded as required by the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights.

The play structure is the largest part of a project for residents who want to see climbable sculptures, trees, a butterfly garden and other features stretch along the repaved Shooks Run trail between Columbia and San Miguel streets, Barnett said. Residents expect to raise another $40,000 for the beautification project, Barnett said. 

Patty Jewett neighbors would also like to help other neighborhoods with similar projects along the trail by providing guidance on fundraising and other aspects of the project, she said. 

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Mayor John Suthers praised the residents' work at Tuesday's celebration and highlighted the importance of outdoor spaces, particularly while coronavirus prevention measures require social distancing. 

"It has never been more important than it has been over the last couple of months to have these parks and open spaces available to our citizens," he said. 

Genevieve Butterfield, 9, oversaw the event, in the literal sense, as she sat on a modern set of monkey bars that she said provide a sense of freedom. She also enjoyed the metal rollers on the slide that added a little boost in speed, she said. 

"They are a little scary," she noted. 

Contact the writer at mary.shinn@gazette.com or (719) 429-9264.

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